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(E) Croatia's coalition to replace three ministers
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  02/27/2002 | Politics | Unrated
(E) Croatia's coalition to replace three ministers
      Second-largest governing party wants to replace three ministers 
      Wed Feb 27,11:10 AM ET 
      ZAGREB, Croatia - The demand by the Social Liberals, Croatia's junior 
      coalition partner, to replace three of its ministers is a serious problem 
      for future government work, Prime Minister Ivica Racan said Wednesday. 
      The demand, announced late Tuesday, is primarily aimed at removing Goran 
      Granic, a deputy to Racan and a key aide. 
      "This is a grave situation for the coalition," Racan told the state-run 
      news agency HINA, hinting that the disagreement over ministers may 
      precipitate early elections. 
      The five-party coalition, which took power two years ago from the 
      nationalists of the late President Franjo Tudjman, has been in trouble for 
      weeks, ever since Drazen Budisa returned as the leader of the Social 
      Budisa, a moderate nationalist who stepped down as party leader last 
      summer to protest the government's decision to extradite two Croatian 
      generals to the U.N. war crimes court, has demanded that his party be 
      given a greater say in the government. 
      Budisa contends that members of his party in the coalition have neglected 
      their party duties and become "lackeys" of Racan's dominant Social 
      However, Racan has previously expressed his satisfaction with the work of 
      the Liberals in his government. He also insisted Granic was an integral 
      part of the coalition. 
      "I can't deny that we have established a great rapport," Racan said of his 
      coalition partners. 
      Parties in the government have a right to withdraw their ministers. But if 
      Racan disagrees, the coalition could collapse, triggering new elections. 
      The Liberal Party holds six posts in the 21-member Cabinet. On Tuesday 
      evening, the Liberals also demanded that Budisa become Racan's deputy. 
      Croatian media speculated Wednesday that Racan and Budisa may eventually 
      reach a compromise, with Budisa joining and Granic remaining in the 
      None of the ruling parties really want new elections and instead seek to 
      enhance their positions with the positive results of economic reforms they 
      have undertaken, which will only be seen in a year. 
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